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Bynum Named University Professor

Caroline Walker Bynum

Morris and Alma Schapiro Professor of History Caroline Walker Bynum has been named University Professor, Columbia’s highest faculty honor. Bynum, who came to Columbia from the University of Washington in 1988, is an internationally recognized medievalist specializing in religious and cultural history. She is the first woman to be named University Professor.

“Caroline Bynum truly merits Columbia’s highest form of academic recognition,” said Provost and Dean of Faculties Jonathan Cole ’64. Praising Bynum as “one of the world’s great historians,” he cited her “all-too-rare ability to combine scholarly erudition with conceptual innovation.”

Bynum teaches all aspects of late antique and medieval history—to both undergraduates and graduate students. Her research for the last 10 years has focused on the history of the body. Her most recent book, The Resurrection of the Body in Western Christianity, 200–1336, published by Columbia University Press, was awarded the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize for the best book on “the intellectual and cultural condition of man” from the Phi Beta Kappa Society and the Jacques Barzun [’27] Prize from the American Philosophical Society for the best book in cultural history.

Bynum’s other books include Fragmentation and Redemption: Essays on Gender and the Human Body in Medieval Religion (winner of the Lionel Trilling Award for best book by a Columbia faculty member and the America Academy of Religion’s Award of Excellence) and Holy Feast, Holy Fast (winner of a Governor’s Award from the State of Washington and the Philip Schaff prize of the American Society of Church Historians).

The holder of six honorary degrees, Bynum has served as president of the American Historical Association, the American Catholic Historical Association, and the Medieval Academy of America. Her many awards and honors include a McArthur Fellowship from 1986 to 1991, membership in the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the President’s Award for Outstanding Teaching from Columbia in 1997.

Bynum served as dean of the School of General Studies and associate vice-president of Arts and Sciences in 1993–94. Before arriving at the University of Washington, she held teaching posts in Harvard’s history department and at the Harvard Divinity School. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Bynum received her doctorate from Harvard University in 1969.

In making the appointment in October, the University Trustees increased the number of University Professors from seven to eight.